by Jessica Reynolds PT
What is TMJ?
TMJ, or the temporomandibular Joint, is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull, and acts as a hinge to open and close the jaw to the skull. These joints are connected to the skull through muscles, ligaments, and discs. The muscles and discs allow movement up and down, forward and back, and side to side. The two joints work together on either side of the jaw to promote smooth movement with talking, chewing, swallowing, and yawning.
If there is any pain or dysfunction, i.e. clicking, locking, snapping, in either of these of the two TMJs, this is referred to as TMJ dysfunction, or TMD.
What is TMJ dysfunction?
TMJ dysfunction can be caused by a variety of issues, whether there is trauma to the joint or through repetitive activities that irritate the joint and/or surrounding tissues. People may exhibit limitations or pain when:
- Looking over Shoulder
- Putting Chin to Chest
- Holding Forehead Parallel to Ceiling
- Chewing or Eating
- Forced Jaw Opening or Closing
- Talking for a long period of time
- Headaches in the temple region
When to seek help from dentist or physio
If you are experiencing locking, clicking, snapping, pain, or any symptoms above, that is affecting your daily living, it is time to see a physiotherapist! If you have had a “click” in your jaw that you just can’t stand, it is time to see a physiotherapist! If you have jaw pain that persists for more than 3 days, it is time to see a physiotherapist!
Just like Physiotherapy helps with knee or shoulder joint, we also work with jaws!
During your assessment, your physio will take a full history, assess the position and movement of your jaw, assess muscle strength, as well as assessing overall posture with head and neck positioning that may be contributing to pain or dysfunction. During treatments, physiotherapists may do soft tissue release, joint mobilizations, jaw musculature strengthening, and postural re-education.
Symptom Do and Don’ts
If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms
- Consult your dentist regarding any teeth grinding, clenching, or night pain
- Wear a mouthguard or bite plate if prescribed by your dentist
- Sit tall and straight when eating or talking
- Eat a soft diet
- Relax your jaw and upper body
- Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth with your teeth slightly apart
- Breath through your nose
- Massage temple region
- Massage jaw muscles
- Prolonged desk work or leaning forward
- Taking large bites of food that open your jaw wide
- Chewing gum, pens, etc
- Clicking on purpose or pushing through pain
- Clenching, grinding
- Nail biting
- Resting your chin on your hand
- Biting your lower lip
- Sticking out your tongue as far as possible
6 pressure point massage
- Hold each pressure point for 30-60 seconds. Release the pressure and reassess how your jaw feels.
- Put your fingers on the side of your jaw and clench your teeth lightly. The muscles that are under your fingers will tighten. Relax your jaw and gentle massage those muscles with your mouth resting naturally open.
- Put your fingers on your temples and clench your teeth lightly. The muscles that are under your fingers will tighten. Relax your jaw and gentle massage those muscles with your mouth resting naturally open.
- Nod yes and keeping your chin down, lengthen the back of your neck
- You should feel a stretch under your skull
- Hold for 1-3 seconds and repeat 10-20 times.
Get up from sitting!
- If you notice your jaw pain gets worse through the day of sitting at your desk or workplace, take 5 mins walking breaks to give your neck and jaw a rest!
Have jaw pain? Think you have TMJ dysfunction? Want to get a jaw assessment? Come see Jessica at our reactive health location in Charlottetown!
To book a physiotherapy appointment with Jessica Reynolds, you can book online here or to book reach us in Charlottetown at:
☎️ (902) 370-3146
📍78 Euston St, Charlottetown